Both Hudson and Zito began their careers in Oakland and formed two of the “Big 3” from 2000-2004. The third member, Mark Mulder, retired earlier this year following a failed comeback with the Anaheim Angels due to sustaining another injury.
Zito, as you will recall, signed an infamous seven year $126 million contract with the Giants following the 2006 season. That contract turned out to be quite ugly, posting a 63-80 record with a 4.62 ERA, which aligns closely to his 4.61 FIP. That, along with a 1.439 WHIP in 1,1139 1/3 innings with just 787 strikeouts all but proved the contract was not a success.
However Zito did have some bright spots as a Giants in particular the 2012 playoffs. After sitting out the 2010 playoffs, Zito served as a secret weapon for Bruce Bochy. In the NLCS, after the Giants were down three games to one against the Stl. Cardinals, Zito took the mound and tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out six. His performance got the Giants pushed the Giants past the Cardinals and onto the World Series to face the Detroit Tigers. Zito’s performance lead to a game 1 start versus Justin Verlander, where Zito once again prevailed and shut down the Tigers offense by tossing 5 1/3 innings of one run ball by allowing just five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts.
Hudson also signed with San Francisco as a free agent following the 2013 season after getting a good sell from his buddy Zito. It was awkward, because Hudson would end up taking Zito’s spot in the rotation as the Giants let the left hander go following the 2013 season. Zito took the 2014 campaign off and made a comeback in 2015, resigning with the Oakland Athletics on a minor league deal.
Hudson very quickly became a favorite in the clubhouse and with the fans. In his first season in orange and black, Hudson was selected to the All-Star game in Minnesota. His veteran leadership and good sense of humor was a perfect fit for a relatively young Giants clubhouse. Just how much of an impact has Hudson had on the Giants? Prior to their last road trip, every player tribute to Hudson by dawning a white polo and rubber caps. And, for his start on Saturday, every player wore a Hudson shirt. That is support, and just goes to show how classy of an organization the Giants are.
Though Hudson is full of fun and games, his ability to still compete at age 39 and 40 paid off for the Giants, and together Hudson was able to win his first World Series ring.
So when it was known one of Hudson’s final starts would be in Oakland as part of the Bay Bridge series, many fans of baseball pushed for the A’s to call up Zito to face off against Hudson one more time. After denying for the longest time, the A’s finally caved and made it happen. It was a special moment, but it only lasted 51 minutes.
Both Hudson and Zito struggled mightily. For Hudson, it was obvious he was not even close to being 100% healthy, and struggled to find the strike zone, prompting Bochy to remove him in the middle of Josh Reddick’s at-bat. He last just 1 1/3 innings while giving up just one hit but three runs on three walks and two hit batters. Zito, on the other hand, last just two innings plus, allowing four runs on six hits and one walk.
Though it was not on the level of Mayweather – Paquiao, there was plenty of hype around the Hudson – Zito matchup. And while the outing didn’t go as planned for either pitcher, it was still an emotional and heart warming gesture by both clubs to allow Zito and Hudson to face off one more time in Oakland.
Two class act and fan favorite pitchers on both sides of the Bay Area that will forever be loved. Thank you Tim Hudson, and thank you Barry Zito.
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